Solar energy has become one of the fastest growing types of electricity generation in New England. Based on ISO New England and available state data, more than 250 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) resources were installed by the end of 2012—and approximately half of that was in 2012 alone. While this is still a relatively small amount—many conventional power plants in New England are larger than this aggregate capacity—the mounting volume and pace of solar development has prompted ISO New England to ratchet up its efforts to understand the impact this resource and other distributed generation (DG) technologies, such as cogeneration, biomass, and wind turbines, will have on the regional grid.
Entries in renewable resources (42)
Over the past five years, the amount of wind power connected to the New England high-voltage power grid has grown rapidly—from approximately two megawatts (MW) in 2005 to more than 700 MW today. Another 2,000+ MW of wind generation has been proposed for the region. Rapidly evolving technology, public policy goals and requirements, and government programs such as the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) are all contributing to rising wind energy development. The growth of this resource adds to the region’s generation portfolio and can also help meet state renewable energy goals. At the same time, it is also adding new and complex challenges to managing the New England power grid.
On June 17, five New England states announced a collaborative effort to explore expanding the import of large amounts of Canadian hydro power into the region. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont agreed to the regional initiative as a way to help meet carbon emission limits and reduce electricity costs.
Currently, about 700 megawatts (MW) of wind power generation are connected to the New England electric grid. An additional 2,800 MW of wind power are in the ISO’s generation interconnection queue, representing nearly 40% of all generation projects being proposed for development in the region. The ISO is taking steps to prepare for managing the grid with an increasing amount of this resource, which has operating characteristics different from traditional resources in that the fuel—wind—is available intermittently. One major initiative underway this year is the development of a centralized wind power forecast. In May, the ISO began publishing a seven-day wind forecast for New England. Each weekday, a CSV file is made available on the ISO website that provides an aggregate wind power projection for each hour for the next seven days. The forecast is still under development and is posted for informational purposes only; the full, final forecast should be operational before the end of 2013. The forecast is already providing useful data on the expected output of wind power resources in the region.
On September 5, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) held its 17th auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances. Generators in the nine RGGI states bought a total of 24.5 million allowances in the auction, one for each ton of CO2 emitted in the compliance period. Bids for the CO2 allowances ranged from $1.93 to $6.51 per allowance, with a clearing price of $1.93, the minimum reserve price for the auction. With states generally holding excess allowances, sales of allowances in auction 17 represented only 65 percent of the 37.9 million allowances offered for sale. Proceeds from the auction amounted to $47.4 million, which the states typically spend on energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and other consumer benefit programs.
Boston Globe reporter Erin Ailworth traveled to ISO New England to speak with CEO Gordon van Welie about the challenges of running the grid. The interview appeared on November 28, 2010, as the Globe's "On the Hot Seat" feature of its business section. Read Ailworth's article, He keeps energy flowing, but worries about the future, on boston.com.